Officers eye boater behavior at sandbar

Mark Wildman
Mark Wildman
Robert Thomas
Robert Thomas
Meghan Statts
Meghan Statts

By Mari-Ela David - bio | email

KANEOHE BAY (KHNL) - Officers kept an eye on a popular Memorial Day party spot out on the water, where drinking and fighting has gotten out of control in the past.

The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) had extra enforcement on Sunday and Monday at the sandbar in Kaneohe Bay.

The beefed up patrols are in response to a brawl that witnesses described as a mob scene.

On Labor Day in 2007, the fight left victims slashed with broken beer bottles, and three people hospitalized.

It's a scene officers don't want repeated.

This Memorial Day weekend, DLNR had crews monitoring boaters for the second year.

"I think it's a good thing, it keeps the fights down," said Mark Wildman, a boater from Kaneohe.

"It's a little bit quieter than years past and the amount of people and boats on the sandbar itself is about half than normal," said Robert Thomas, a U.S. Coast Guard officer.

With the help of the Coast Guard, DLNR officers made sure boats had proper safety gear, and current registration. They also checked for any boaters who might've been drinking and driving, or speeding.

Something new this year - boaters with an expired registration were able to renew on-site at the Heeia Kea Harbor.

"We found last year when we were doing this that there were a lot of people who didn't have their boats currently registered so we had to turn them away," said Meghan Statts, Oahu District Manager of DLNR's Boating Division.

And for keiki who didn't have a life jacket?

"We don't want to terminate their voyage so we loaned them the jackets, just a small deposit and the kids are really excited about going out in the water and having a good time," said Statts.

As of Monday evening, a DLNR spokesperson said officers issued 16 warnings, and three to four citations for various safety violations.

There were no BUI's (boating under the influence).

DLNR said over 200 boats and 600 to 800 people were at the sandbar this Memorial Day weekend.